Laying the Corner Stone of a Catholic Church.
The Brooklyn Eagle, July 18, 1853
Yesterday afternoon the corner stone of a Catholic church, dedicated to St. Mary, “star of the sea,” corner of Court and Luqueer streets, was laid with the usual ceremonies, His Grace Archbishop Hughes being present, and officiating on the occasion. The ceremonies were announced to commence at 4 o’clock, P.M., but it was near 6 o’clock before the Archbishop arrived. A vast crowd had assembled, consisting of not less than 10,000 persons, all of whom manifested a strong interest on the occasion. The children of the Catholic Orphan Asylum, situated at the junction of Congress and Court streets, and the Sunday school, carrying their banners, accompanied by Adkin’s band playing “The Flag of Our Union,” with their white dresses, made a very handsome feature in the assemblage.
The Archbishop arrived about 6 o’clock. He was supported by Rev. Messrs. McGin and Bois, Deacons of Honor, Rev. Dr. Bacon, of the church of the Assumption, Sidney Place, (the founder and builder of the new edifice) and the following clergymen of New York and Brooklyn, all of whom assisted in the ceremonies: Rev. Mr. McDonough, St. James’ church, Jay street, Rev. Mr. Delahanty, St. James’ church, Rev. Mr. McKeon, of Gowanus church, Rev. Mr. Schneller, of St. Paul’s church, Court street, Rev. Mr. Farrell of St. Paul’s, Rev. Mr. Quinn, of St. Peters’, Very Rev. Mr. Laughlin, Vicegerent* of St. Patrick’s church, Rev. Mr. McClusky, Church of the Nativity, Rev. Mr. Malone, of Williamsburgh, Rev. Dr. Cummings, of St. Stephen’s New York, and Father O’Driscoll, of the Society of Jesus. It was announced that M. Bedini, the Papal Nuncio, would be present, but he had not arrived from Washington, and consequently did not appear.**
At the south end of the building, fronting on Court street, a platform was raised, covered by a canvas tent, and in the centre a dais, where purple cushioned chairs, were placed for the accommodation of the Archbishop. On the east wall the band and a choir of male singers were stationed, an executed a number of sacred compositions during the intervals of the ceremonies.
The Archbishop in his official robes, accompanied by the clergymen already mentioned, proceeded to perform the ceremony of laying the corner stone, and read the Latin ritual, the priests uttering the responses. In the cavity of the stone were deposited American coins of the present year, a written history of the Crystal Palace, documents giving names of officiating Archbishop, the Pope, civil officers of the United States, &c.;, &c.;, both in Latin and English, copies of the leading daily papers of New York, the Eagle and other Brooklyn papers, &c.; A collection was then taken up to aid in the erection of the Church, which must have realized a large amount. The Archbishop then delivered the sermon.
The Catholics were to be the depositaries of the faith that must be a land mark for the guidance of a great portion of the American people who were ready to go to the left or the right after every delusion. They believe that the Virgin Mary although a human daughter of Eve, yet as the mother of Christ, to have been preserved by God, from the stain of original sin, and in her name this church was to be dedicated: the first church on this continent erected in attestation of this conviction of the Catholic Church. He remembered when a priest came over to Brooklyn to celebrate mass to about ten dozen of people about once a month, and compared that period with the present when they require so many additional Catholic churches.
He concluded by giving the Episcopal benediction and the whole ceremonies were terminated by a solemn Te Deum.**** The building is to be of brick, faced with Connecticut stone, in accordance with the old English style of architecture. It will be 70 x 120 feet in extent, with chancel 36 by 25 feet additional, and a tower 25 by 25 and 300 feet in height. In the rear, and extending from the right of the main edifice, is to be erected an addition to be sued for a school. It will be 25 feet on Luqueer street, and 65 deep. The whole will be complete in about a year, and the whole will cost between $30,000 and $40,000. When finished the church will be under the pastoral charge of Rev. Dr. Bacon, whose urbanity and gentlemanly deportment have rendered him popular among all classes.
*A Vicegerent is a sort of deputy in charge of a church or cathedral.
**Archbishop Gaetano Bedini (1806-1864) was sent to the United States as the Pope’s representative. At a time when anti-Catholicism was high throughout the country, his presence provoked riots wherever he traveled.
***The Archbishop is making reference to the movement known as Spiritualism, which was basically an attempt to contact the dead. Spiritualists believed that inexplicable tapping noises were one of the means employed by the deceased to make contact with the living. After Abraham Lincoln’s death, his wife Mary was involved in the movement. (One of the most popular songs of 1853 was “Spirit Rappings.”)
****Te Deum is a hymn of praise sung upon special occasions like the one above. It’s Latin for “We praise you, O God.” It dates back to the fourth century A.D.